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I Didn't Wash My Hair For a Week & Here's What Happened


My hair has always been a core part of my identity. I’ve had curls my entire life, and save that one period during sixth grade when I thought it was cool to straighten my hair all the time, I’ve worn them proudly. I use as little heat as possible when styling, and I never blow-dry. But according to many hair care enthusiasts, I’m still doing one thing wrong: washing my hair every day.

The sulfates in most shampoos can strip hair of its natural oils; drier hair, in turn, gets more split ends and breakage. No-poo enthusiasts insist that after you get through that first week of greasy hair, your sebaceous glands will adjust to the moisture and make less sebum (aka grease), and your hair will be naturally moisturized all the time, never dry, and never greasy.

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I have tried to go without shampoo before, but I never made it through that dreaded third day. My hair would look greasy and stringy, and I would break down and wash it, drying it out and starting the cycle all over again. My mom has always told me I should wash my hair less often, so I decided to take her advice, get over the third-day hump, and not wash my hair for a full seven days.

For this experiment, I used my normal products: Suave Professionals Almond & Shea Butter Shampoo and Conditioner and Catwalk by TIGI’s Curls Rock Amplifier. The shampoo and conditioner have always left my hair feeling clean and moisturized and the amplifier, which is halfway between a gel and a cream, helps to keep my curls frizz-free all day. Most of the blogs I looked recommended no product as well, since it'll only build up on your scalp when you're not shampooing. But going out in public on day one with naked hair was a no-go because without product, my frizz makes me look like the first cousin to a troll doll. Many also recommend easing yourself into it by using dry shampoo for the first few days, but most dry shampoo has to be brushed out, which is also a no-go for curly hair.

Day One

I washed my hair in the morning as usual, but used less of the amplifier than normal for fear it would weigh down my hair later in the week. Day one hair is usually the only hair that sees the light of day because my curls are still together, my roots are clean and not shiny, and it holds style well. Thankfully, my hair dried without much frizz. My curls were tight and my hair felt light and dry. Day one was the only day I applied any product to my hair.

Day Two

Sometimes, day two hair still feels clean enough for me to wear it down. This was one of those times. It still looked clean, but running my fingers along my scalp, I could feel it start to get greasy. The curls in front had separated a bit, so I braided it back to hide that and also to keep it out of my face. Sleeping on it made it a little frizzy, but I still felt comfortable wearing it down. I spent the day out with some friends and didn’t feel the need to put it up even though it was incredibly windy outside.

Day Three

The dreaded day three arrived, and I could feel how gross my hair was before I even looked in the mirror. I decided to “wash” it with just water to see if I could rinse out the product I put in on the first day, which I suspected was contributing to the heaviness. I also brushed my hair before getting it wet, hoping to work some of the natural oils from my scalp down the rest of my hair. To my surprise, the brushing combined with the friction in my fingers actually got the greasiness down to a manageable level. In fact, my hair felt almost as light as it did on the first day, and my curls were holding together really well. By the end of the day, I did get some frizz, but I chalked that up to the cold weather in Ohio rather than to my hair care routine.

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Day Four

Day four was probably my favorite out of the whole week. I repeated the day three process, brushing and rinsing my hair with water to redistribute the oil. My hair looked—dare I say it?—better than it did on the first day. My curls were tighter and the top of my hair was smoother. The problem with gels and creams is sometimes you can tell that you are wearing them—your hair might look shiny or stiff if you use too much. On day four, my hair looked natural... because it was. Of course, I hated the way it felt. My roots felt greasy (but didn’t look shiny, thankfully) and my hair felt heavier than normal. Regardless, I felt comfortable going out for lunch with my friends without worrying about frizz. 

Day Five

The fifth day was... okay. My ends felt thicker and stronger than ever, but I felt like someone had poured coconut oil over my head. Or like I was in a scalp-only sauna. Or like you could start a grease fire on my scalp. Gross, I know. I thought the third day would be my hump day and the rest of the week would be better, but day five was the worst yet. 

Day Six

Hair from hell. I woke up with a mess of hair and washing it with water did absolutely nothing. I stared longingly at my shampoo as I tried to figure out how to tackle the beast. My curls had separated. Usually when this happens, it creates so much volume that I get the dreaded “triangle head,” but my hair was so heavy that most of it fell straight. I was going to put it up in a ponytail (my go-to lazy style for bad hair days) but doing so would have exposed my hairline, where you could clearly see how dirty my hair was. I read somewhere on Pinterest that dirty hair holds braids better, so I braided my hair down the side and back and twisted it into a little bun. It worked, but it was definitely not my best hair day ever. I felt self-conscious going out to the grocery store because I felt like everyone could tell how gross I felt.

RELATED: Should You Change Up Your Hair?

Day Seven

You know when you open Snapchat and you accidentally see yourself in the front-facing camera when you aren’t expecting it? And you have three chins and you can see up your nostrils and you feel really gross? Yeah, that’s how I felt on the seventh day. I looked like... well, somebody who hadn’t washed her hair for the last six days. I took my hair out of the bun I had tied it in the night before and I had exactly one curl left. The rest had fallen straight from the weight of my hair’s natural, healthy (and super gross!) oils. So I washed my hair—for real this time, with shampoo and conditioner.

To nobody’s surprise, my hair looked almost exactly the same as it did on the first day. But, it felt much stronger than it ever has before, and it had a natural shine to it instead of looking dull and flat.

Conclusion? I don’t like having dirty hair, and I never will. My hair felt stronger by the end of the week, but brushing through the oils and scrubbing at my scalp was actually much more work than my normal, low-maintenance process. Props to the no-shampoo girls who swear by their routine, but it's not for me. I might try again someday, but I’m sticking to my old routine for now, and showing off my stronger, healthier, clean hair.

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